This week, the Office of the Vice Provost for Research and the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs, in collaboration with the Center for African Studies, announced the inaugural awardees of the Motsepe Presidential Research Accelerator Fund for Africa.

This fund, supported by the Motsepe Foundation, will significantly strengthen the University’s relationship with Africa through faculty-led science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) research across Harvard’s Schools, exploring questions of crucial importance to the region as illustrated by first cohort of awardee projects.

“The Motsepe Presidential Research Accelerator Fund for Africa represents an important and impactful contribution to our faculty research community,” said Rick McCullough, Vice Provost for Research and Professor of Materials Science and Engineering. “We see this clearly in the unprecedented number, and impressive caliber, of the applications we received in this first funding cycle. We are proud to support the work of our awardees, and look forward to facilitating additional exceptional research projects in future cycles of this Fund.”

“We are thrilled to be able to contribute to scholarship and research that address major threats for the continent. Our faculty from across the university, with strong in-country collaborations, are deeply committed to advancing solutions that make a positive impact for the wellbeing of people in Africa and beyond,” said Wafaie Fawzi, Interim Oppenheimer Faculty Director at the Harvard Center for African Studies and professor of population Sciences, and professor of nutrition, epidemiology, and global health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

The inaugural faculty projects awarded this year are:

“Building Digital Infrastructure for Climate-Smart Public Health in Madagascar”
by Christopher Golden, assistant professor of nutrition and planetary health, Chan School
With collaborators Mamy Lalatiana Andriamanarivo, Director of the University of Antananarivo, School of Public Health; Hervet Randriamady, national research director, Madagascar Health and Environmental Research; Ando Miharifetra, doctoral student at the University of Antananarivo, School of Public Health; Nirivololona Raholijao, director general of the Bureau of Climate and Meteorology, Madagascar; Nambinisoa Mauricette Andriamananjara, director of health informatics at the Ministry of Health, Madagascar; Tilahy Désiré, secretary general, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries; Elke Konings, director of scientific partnerships at Management Sciences for Health.

“Predicting the sensitivity of agriculture across Africa to temperature and water availability”
by Peter Huybers, professor of Earth and planetary sciences and of environmental science and engineering, Harvard John A. Paulson School Of Engineering And Applied Sciences
In collaboration with Noel Michele Holbrook, professor of forestry and organismic and evolutionary biology at Harvard University, and Victor Ongoma, Mohammed VI University Polytechnic, Morocco.

“SARS-CoV-2 in Nigeria’s Healthcare Workers”
by Phyllis Kanki, Mary Woodard Lasker Professor of Health Sciences, Chan School
With co-investigators Folasade Ogunsola, deputy vice-chancellor, professor of microbiology at the University of Lagos; Sulaimon Akanmu, professor of hematology at the University of Lagos College of Medicine; Christian Happi, professor and director at the African Centre Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases, Redeemer’s University in collaboration with David Walt, Wyss Institute at Harvard Medical School.

“Using an Appointment Scheduling system to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission among prenatal care and HIV patients”
by Margaret McConnell, associate professor of global health economics, Chan School
With co-investigators Sandra Sequeira, associate professor at the London School of Economics; Maria Steenland, assistant professor at Brown University; Amanda de Albuquerque, graduate student at PUC – Rio in Brazil, in collaboration with Eduardo Samo Gudo, Sergio Chicumbe, and Janet Dula at the National Institute of Statistics, Ministry of Health, Mozambique.

 “Language, Culture and Technology in Africa”
by John Mugane, professor of the practice of African languages and cultures and director of the African Language Program, Faculty of Arts and Sciences
In collaboration with Eric Mibuari, Ph.D. student, computer science, Harvard University.

School Readiness of HIV-exposed uninfected children in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania”
by Christopher Sudfeld, assistant professor in global health and population, Chan School
With co-investigators Dana McCoy, associate professor of education, Harvard Graduate School of Education and Karim P. Manji, professor of pediatrics, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences in Tanzania and in collaboration with Nandita Perumal, postdoctoral research fellow at the Chan School.

 “Describing and Understanding China’s Engagement in Africa”
by David Yang, assistant professor of Economics, Faculty of Arts and Sciences
In collaboration with Marco Tabellini, assistant professor in the business, government, and international economy unit at Harvard Business School.